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New Point Comfort Lighthouse

new point comfort lighthouse


Then and Now

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In 1801, the Second United States Congress authorized construction of the lighthouse on the Southern tip of Mathews County, Virginia at the convergence of the Chesapeake and Mobjack Bays to aid ships navigating into the York River and the Mobjack and Chesapeake Bays, and to Northern ports such as Washington and Baltimore. The lighthouse and several other structures were constructed on an island of more than 250 acres. The lighthouse began operations on January 17, 1805. Damaged during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, it was repaired each time and continued to operate as an offical aid to navigation until 1962.
The island and other structures no longer exist as a result of hurricanes and storms. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse is in immediate danger of being lost, and the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force was formed in 2001 to help the county develop a plan to save it. Working with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Task Force has developed a plan and begun to raise funding for a two-phase effort to safeguard and restore the lighthouse. Phase I is the construction of a new rock revetment to safeguard the lighthouse, and Phase II is the work to restore and preserve it. {Longitude 76°16"W, Latitude 37°18"N}

A Preservation Challenge

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New Point Comfort Lighthouse, the lonely sentinel at the southern tip of Mathews County, traces its history from the earliest days of the United States. First lighted in 1805, the lighthouse has survived war, hurricanes, abandonment, and for every year of its life, the clawing, eroding grasp of the sea. It stands as a reminder of the nation's first efforts to establish commerce during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson.  {Read more...}

Balanced on the Point of History

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The New Point Comfort Lighthouse is in imminent danger of collapse.  After 204 years as a symbol of America's strength she is being continually undermined by the forces of erosion and neglect. Engineers warn that, if immeditate action is not undertaken to rescue this national treasure, she  will soon collapse into the waters of the Chesapeake - lost forever.  {Watch video...}



The New Point Comfort Lighthouse Its History and Preservation

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The Mathews County Historical Society, Inc. (MCHS) announces the publication of its new book, "The New Point Comfort Lighthouse Its History and Preservation," by author Mary Louis Clifford. This book is a tribute to the lighthouse keepers who manned this lighthouse, their families, the County of Mathews and its residents and their part in the maritime history on the Chesapeake Bay.

Starting with a March 3, 1801, Act of Congress to build a lighthouse between Old Point Comfort and Smith's Point, New Point Comfort Lighthouse evolved. It was first lit in 1805 and manned by its first lighthouse keeper Elzy Burroughs, its builder.

The book traces the lighthouse's history from construction to preservation efforts of today. Included within its chapters are old photographs and correspondence, the role of New Point Comfort Lighthouse during the War of 1812 and the Civil War and the keepers of the light.

Now the property of Mathews County, New Point Comfort Lighthouse was maintained as a beacon of welcome and protection until 1963.

Author Mary Lousie Clifford has published over twenty books with several about lighthouses. Researcher and book designer J. Candace Clifford is a lighthouse historian.

The book will be sold locally at the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center, 239 Main Street, Mathews, or can be ordered by mailing a check (made out to MCHS) to MCHS, P.O. Box 855, Mathews, VA 23109. Hard cover books are $28 plus $5 VA sales tax and shipping and soft cover books at $20 plus $4.50 VA sales tax and shipping.

Proceeds from the book benefit the preservation of the New Point Comfort Lighthouse.